4 Organization Tips

Org picStaying organized is what everyone wants to do, right? Hopefully some of my tips for staying organized will help you out:

1. Write It Out 

There are some people who will argue that if you keep everything in your phone you don’t need to write it down in a planner. So why write it down?  Here’s why: Writing things down helps you remember them AND get them done. A study at Dominican University found that people who wrote down their goals, shared them with friends, and maintained accountability for them were 33% more likely to actually achieve those goals! The act of writing stimulates the reticular activating system (RAS) which forces you to focus on the task at hand, making you more alert. Also in more layman terms, using your hand to form letters involves more brain function so you’re more alert to what you actually writing.  I keep most weekly work meetings in my phone calendar so each morning I am reminded of them when I wake up. And I admit I love the reminder feature on the iPhone that will tell me that I need to pay my electric bill by next week. However, I only really use electronic calendar on more of a day to day basis. It was really helpful in college, for knowing which classes I had that day. I also have a written planner where I use all sorts of colorful pens to remind me of what I have going on each day of the week. I use the written planner more for a weekly overview and to remember important days, such as a friend’s birthday. In terms of goals I tend to write in the color green small tasks I want to get done after work that are usually part of a larger personal project I am working on, like for instance, spending 30 minutes practicing a programming language.

I also got in the habit this last month of writing down all my work tasks for the day in a notebook when I get in each morning. This helps me check off each thing I need to get done during the day, and also keep a log of exactly what I do which is helpful when I compile monthly reports. I’ve even started writing down lines of code to help me remember certain programming things. Of course, I would never write out more than a line or two, but its a nice reference to have and it helps me visualize everything a little bit better.

2. Communication 

So you’re probably thinking what does communication have to do with organization besides sharing a common suffix? Communication helps you stay organized because you do things more efficiently when you consult others  about what you working on. A lot of the time coworkers may have encountered something you are working on at that time in one of their projects, because as “coworkers” they work on a lot of the same things as you. If they can offer a resource that will help you move along faster it could be worth bringing up. Also you may work in a team on a project and its so important to keep the lines of communication open so you can split up your time evenly. Most know about Google Docs already, but if not, I highly suggest it for collaborating on projects. If you’re working at an event where your team will be split up, try the app, GroupMe. It’s not as annoying as mass group messages, it’s free, most smartphones get it and you can manage multiple groups.

3. Clean Daily 

This seems pretty basic, but there’s a rationale explantation about why this is so important. Whenever you try to procrastinate one of the things some people do is clean up to waste time, if it’s already clean though you can just focus on your work! Try to keep the main areas you live in, which for me is my bedroom as clean as possible. If your bed is always made you’ll be less inclined to hop in and doze off for a nap.   If you clean daily you spend less time distracted, and don’t have to spend a whole day cleaning at a later date. It’s a real treat to wake up each morning to a clean slate, doing so will help you make time for what really matters. Also if you don’t get around to cleaning for a long time you’ll just end up feeling burdened until you do, so save yourself the stress.

4. The Extra Shirt 

I’m not necessarily talking about backing up your computer, but that’s good too! Part of being organized is being prepared. I had a professor once pass along this tip: always keep a spare business appropriate shirt in the back of your car. He was a big coffee drinker, as I am as well, so after a few instances of spilling on himself and being trapped in meetings all day he starting bringing along an extra shirt. Obviously there is a lot you can’t prepare for, that’s what makes life fun. However like my professor, who would occasionally spill coffee on himself, it’s worth eliminating the risk. So figure out what your vice is and prepare for it so next time it won’t be such an issue.

The most important thing is, not everything works for everyone, so find what works for you. Some studies suggest warmer temperatures increase productivity, and even pictures of baby animals. Find what works for you to stay productive and organized.

“We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day”

In 1990 supermodel Linda Evangelista was quoted saying “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day” (referencing herself and fellow supermodel Christy Turlington). Her statement was not without consequence, in fact, the consequence might be over a decade later that she is most famous for that very statement. Regardless, Evangelista’s statement really struck me in that I admire her boldness. I mean I had to really stop and think what’s my daily rate for getting up? What do I value getting out of bed for? 

I can tell you on Saturday mornings there are very few things that will get me out of bed. My Saturday mornings are mine to stay in bed and recover from the week during which I probably pulled a few late nights. But Saturdays aside, I guess what I get up for never has a dollar sign in front of it. 

I know most would counter that statement with the assertion that I get up for work and I make money by doing that. That’s completely true. That thought certainly crosses my mind when I want to turn over and go to back to sleep after being awoken by my alarm five days a week.

The fact I actually like going to the office. In my mind I could lay in bed all day and be content. Then again going to the office seeing my coworkers, debating television shows, and joking around is in the long term more fun than anything. Coming up with an original idea, creating a sick infographic, these are little things are worth getting up for each morning. I get up everyday because every single day I am surprised by mine and others’ potential. 

I sit at my desk like millions of Americans, and shake my head at tragedies being reported in the Twitterverse. I think why would someone commit that horrible crime? The potential for evil in humanity is astounding. 

Sure there will be at least one viral Youtube video that week that make me laugh. And yes, I will be amazed at some new gadget someone in this world created on the typical week and the fact everyone can fund strangers’ great ideas on sites like Kickstarter. Those sort of things, they expand my perception and faith in the human potential for good.

All in all, I start to feel kind of bad for Evangelista, that she only gets to live those days where someone is willing to pay $10,000 or more. I don’t get paid any specific amount to get up each morning but I like to think that in some way life has been paying me in experiences all along. I’m saving it all up, and collecting interest on it each time I take inspiration from it and utilize in my work and relationships.  

But that’s just what I like to think, I wake up to live.  

Six Ways To Get that Job After College

1. “First things first, be first.” The response rate for jobs I applied for the minute they were posted has been exponentially higher than jobs I applied for after they had been up on job boards for a while. This is especially important if the company is looking to fill the position quickly. Not to put you down, but even if you are not the most qualified, the sheer fact you applied early could be key in getting you the job. First thing in the morning check job boards, also keep an eye on them throughout the day, the payoff will be worth it!           

2. “Breakdown your previous experience be it work or philanthropy chair in your house, with bullet points.” Do you remember those two months you spent slaving over your sorority’s pancake breakfast philanthropy for XYZ charity? Now is your chance to let that hard work work for you. List out what you did, without being too specific, to give your prospective employer some idea of what you are capable of managing. Otherwise they are going to look over philanthropy chair immediately as just another activity, make it sound interesting so they’ll want to interview you so they can ask. One of my favorite interviews was one where they asked me “are you able to deal with difficult people?” I smiled, tried to not laugh, and proceeded to explain how I spent every Sunday night for the last two years attending officer meetings where all 36 of us sorority girls had to agree on some course of action for the chapter.  One guy replied “you got 36 college girls to all reach a consensus on something, damn that is pretty impressive. We only work in teams of 5 or more here.”

3. “Don’t up your privacy settings, loosen them on social networks.” This seems like an odd tip, and that being said it’s not for everyone. Nowadays employers actually like to see that you are involved on social networks (especially key if you are applying to a job in marketing or advertising). While over a phone or in-person interview they only get to know you for a few minutes your online presence lets them see your personality. Maybe you have too many embarrassing Facebook photos, so no harm in keeping those private. Perhaps keep your tweet open and retweet articles about the industry you want to work in, keep a few Facebook photos public that show your involvement in that pancake breakfast you slaved over all in the name of charity. Trust me, it’s an easy way to let your employer know you are quality candidate.

4. “Quantity does matter” No, I’m not talking about the amount of work experience here; I’m talking about using numbers on your resume. One really easy way to give you an edge when you apply for a job is the ability to quantify what you have done. Your prospective employer may not know what a philanthropy or social chair does, even worse they may hate Greek life all together. However, everyone understands numbers, they are universal and therefore they are golden. If you sold 1000 Macbooks at the Apple store when you worked there over the summer, put it in a bullet point under your job on your resume. If you increased the traffic to a company’s Facebook page by 45% put it down! Obviously, there are some numbers you can’t get but in those cases use your best guess. Or another way is to ask your previous employer, they may be happy to help find the data you’re looking for anyway! Often employers have to report to someone with what you have done and therefore are constantly measuring your progress, so more often than not they have those numbers.

5.. “Mentor, mentor, mentor” Cinderella had a fairy godmother, you had a big sis in your sorority, it only makes sense you’d need a professional life mentor as well. You may very well find this person through Greek Life, a great deal of my sisters certainly have, but that’s not the only place you can look. My mentor is a former boss of mine from a well-known company. I chose her not only because she had been my supervisor for over two years and was a fantastic reference but also because she knew a lot about the industry. She had worked in technology for over 18 years. Beyond just advising you on jobs these mentors can sometimes provide a foot-in-the door to a job you want.  Keep in touch with them, call them, email, and set up lunches so they won’t hesitate to call you should an opportunity arise. 

6.. “Kill them will kindness” I once had this interview go horribly, it seemed like no matter what I did I couldn’t impress the people interviewing me. Despite knowing I was doomed early on I soldier through and sent a follow-up thank you. I got a response from them thanking me for following-up and some more questions about the field I was trying to get into. A few weeks later I was starting there as a paid intern. Also months later at that same job I overheard a woman talking about how one of the students she had interviewed had written her the most thoughtful thank you note after. Despite the fact the student wasn’t qualified for the position she ended up offering her a job for a year later if she came back with more experience.

Lesson Learned

It really amazes me I haven’t written on this thing since January 17th.  The truth is after that my life got very, very exciting. I had no idea how crazy things were going get.

I went through this phase of just being very unhappy, and feeling like I wasn’t quite alive but merely an image. On paper, in pictures everything looked great but inside I was so very hurt. I vividly remember what it was that hurt me. Luckily I had 5 friends to turn to, 5 girls who sat with me as I cried, 5 girls who picked up the pieces. That pain motivated me to become very introspective. I started writing in a journal, which used to be really hard for me to do. I thought it was because I didn’t like to have my innermost thoughts so exposed and accessible to any other human being. But this incident, this one incident drove me to figure out that before this moment in my life I had never truly felt anything. I know that sounds ridiculous. And yes,  we all have feelings. But for some reason this incident evoked such pain and anger in me that it was like an awakening. It changed my life in ways no one will really ever understand. 

I remember how I only found time to write in my journal right before my philosophy class. I had made myself busy with things I had to do, to keep my mind off the real problem. But in that moment I poured my heart into the journal. And the last lines of that journal entry read something to the extent of how I found it hard to imagine I would ever stop being hurt. The day after I wrote that journal entry as if God had answered a prayer the most insane and exciting thing happened. I must again be vague but I will say it was something so specific only divine intervention would have caused that to occur.  I never told anyone what the sign was, but it was something I had mentioned in my journal entry, a small fact, a small realization. 

In the months following that day I only wrote in my journal when I was angry or mad. I started being much more spontaneous and taking chances. I fell into a whole new world of people, places, and things. I met a few entertaining characters. I learned a few tough, tough lessons the hard way. But I didn’t change who I was, I simply became more open to the idea of being around people less like me.  

Through it all I had those same 5 girls who sat with me every night as I rambled on with my crazy stories. The 5 girls who never left me. The 5 girls who tried with every fiber of their being to make sure I was never hurt on the inside or outside. And they are truly the angels in my life. They are my guardians.  

I wish I could tell you the real stories behind these last few months. But I guess what’s most important is the lesson. The fact that at the end of it all I was back with those 5 girls was the lesson. They came to my rescue each time, and it amazes me how I have been blessed with these girls who are better than I deserve.  The whole time things were going on I kept thinking “what’s the lesson in this situation?” and it was only recently it hit me the lesson was that all I ever needed was right in front of me.  

So yes to catch you up, I learned a lot. I decided it’s good to be open, but only to these 5 girls, they know me best. It’s good to keep the past in the past, which is why I won’t tell the stories. It’s good to keep a journal for feelings. It’s also really good to keep your phone on loud. 

For the five girls who mean everything to me, I am so grateful. I am sorry for all the craziness, but on the bright side you’re going to have so much fun telling these stories in our senior letters! I hope to one day be at least half the friend all of you individually have been to me, not to mention as a group. 

“The life you have left is a gift. Cherish it. Enjoy it now, to the fullest. Do what matters, now.”

What better gift to receive on Christmas than purely the ability to wake up? Most days of the year you forget. If someone were to ask you what you did on say the second of March last year, chances are you wouldn’t remember. Unless of course some major event happened to fall on that day. But December 25th you will always remember each and every year. 

So what is your day defined by? Presents? Feasts? Family? Traditions including any of the aforementioned? What is all boils down to is the “matter” factor, and there’s nothing scientific about this type of “matter”. The “matter” factor indicator of how much something is going to matter in 4 days, 10 months, or 20 years. And you can try as you might but you will never know what anything will mean to you in future. So really appreciate it in the present because you’ll never know when you’ll want to relive the memory. 

You know that sound of gasps, those faces of shock you get when you come to the christmas tree and see your presents…freeze that shock, that joy and save it for a day like the second of march so you can gasp when something shockingly ordinary happens…and be shocked, be happy for the simple fact that you bumped into an old friend at the supermarket. Call it God’s christmas, or just call it life. Good luck finding the presents and don’t forget to give a little back to the Big Guy.

Oh and Merry Christmas 🙂 

“We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are”

I have an obsession with the motif of mirrors. No matter what I write a mirror ends up in the story somewhere if not completely revolving around it. I am not conceited, in fact I have this weird habit of squinting when I look in mirrors, I am sort of scared to look in the mirror in the morning. Wouldn’t you be? I mean who knows what a night of tossing and turning did to your hair and don’t even get me started on the possibility of a pimple showing up. 

So I have this love/hate relationship with mirrors. Mirrors are like the paradox of humanity as we know it. I mean think about, we believe in things like God, that someone loves us, that a dream will come true… yet we never find it in us to believe in the person staring back at us. Why can’t we believe in ourselves if we can so easily believe in the things we never see?

I struggle with this everyday. I believe the relationship with one’s self is the hardest and the most rewarding. This relationship really blossomed for me going away to college, I came to see who I was aside from the environment in which I had been born. And no matter where I go that person staring back at me in the mirror is going to be my companion. Somedays I freak myself out, I look a little too grown up. Other days I freak myself out, I look a little like Ke$ha in the opening scene of the Tik Tok music video.  

Mirrors make us stop and see how we look to the world. The mirror never really conveys the stereotypes or judgements others may have of us. The mirror is purely us seeing ourselves, with our judgements. And eventually you have to learn to let those go because you can’t see how beautiful you are if you keep believing in negative words you think up…I mean those words are internal. The external you can’t just be a “10” if the internal you is on a negative numerical ranking system.

I have found when this happens you are just left feeling completely out of whack. You have these ideals you build in your head and when they don’t match who you are in your life this happens. The same can happen where you let yourself down by imagining yourself as perfect, and finding yourself disappointed when you look in the mirror. So what should you think? What should you want to see?

Here’s the secret: There is only feature you have to worry about.

 Your smile. 

 I hope the person in the mirror smiles with the same smile I knew at 5, 10, and 15. That means I’m happy. And that’s all I ever wanted to see. 

You Are Who You Run With

We’ve all heard it, but have we learned it?

 The first time I heard it was when my professors (in a college course I was taking as a freshman in high school) started a lecture with it. I got the point he was trying to make but I would not learn the lesson just yet. To be honest, I still myself learning this lesson. 

We all make friends, some that are good for us others that are bad for us. Some that are both. The world likes to tell us that friends are good people who would never hurt us. The truth is friends have, friends do, and friends will hurt you. You make the choice from that point on to work through it or graciously decline furthering that relationship.

When I was in high school all I ever wanted were friends. They were especially important when you consider the environment in which I was growing up. I attended an all girls Catholic school. This is not a bad thing, but a sort of category to which comes consequences. We all wore uniforms, we had very similar schedules, we had a small sampling of clubs, and the same day to day routine. Friends, were one of the few forms of expression. This is why perhaps at institutions such as this cliques are so prominent. Such groupings are one of the few means of expression.

A school can censor your artwork, your writing, your acting, and your demeanor. You can rebel but of course you will suffer consequences. In high school you have parents to consider, who will in small ways dictate how your life is to be, who you are to see, where you are to go. With so much working against you, it is a miracle you can sometimes escape it all and for the 6 hours you are in school form small, structured friendships. It is hard to even say if those “acquaintances” are truly friends, if your schedules were to change would they still find time to see you? There are so many factors that go into the process of acquiring friends, but if it were not worth it people would not do it. So we make friends. 

I will be honest and say I did make some friends that were not the best influence on me. Luckily I took that as a lesson and learned to involve myself with them less. And it was in doing so I realized they were not my true friends. They did not care if I did not call them, they only cared when they needed something.

So what can be learned from this? A lot. I went to college with the mentality that if anyone used me to the point they hurt me they were gone. And trust me, I had to put this lesson to practice plenty of times. While it was hard to see that some people have to leave your life I took comfort in the promise of something better. They say God never takes something from you without the intention of replacing it, often with something better. I was lucky enough to see this. The people who came into my life in college helped me bloom into a much better person. They saw my potential and they worked to help me reach it. 

I remember that moment, just after my parents walked out of my dorm and I was all alone in the room. My two roommates were not staying for the night, I spent my first day and night in college truly alone. There I was with all my college goodies, I had spent months in the summer compiling. I had thought of everything I needed for my new home. And then it hit me. I was alone in one of the biggest cities in the world. Suddenly my blue pillows and pictures scattered on the walls were not enough. 

How would I ever survive? Where would I start? I never took this AP test. 

I just jumped. I made a list of things I wanted to do and I started doing it. I went Greek, I became a journalist. I made two choices that would shape my entire life. From those two choices, I crossed paths with an array of people who would not change me, but would help me find myself. 

 

You are who you run with. And I just want you to ask yourself are they running the block or the marathon in your life?

 

Life’s about choices. Choose wisely.